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Ask An Atheist Anything

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posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 09:26 AM
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C09JayLT

Forenote: as I was posting this, I just noticed your sig. Your attributing that saying to Spock explains a lot. Maybe you should "ask your professor" about it, lol. Anyway...


Now, if you use the word 'religion' differently than it is defined that is your business, but atheism does not fit the correct definition.

No, it doesn't fit your personal definition. Which is fine. The test for using the word "incorrectly," however, is that people fail to understand fluently what the user is talking about.

You obviously understand me just fine, as does everybody else who's reading this.

Atheism is a religion. Atheism is a belief, specifically, the belief that no god exists.

That is not to be confused with a similar sounding but distinct credal state, that of not believing in any god. That latter view is shared by atheists with agnostics, many Buddhists, shamans, ancestor worshippers... with all sorts of people who aren't atheists, or who aren't necessarily atheists.

The former view, however, is specific to atheists, and only held by atheists. It is not shared with agnostics, for example, and may or may not be shared with other individuals who, besides being atheists, also belong to a religion which was mentioned previously.

Not believing in any god is, to that extent, not to hold a belief. Going beyond that, however, and believing something else which is not implied by not believing in any god, is to hold a belief.

"I do not believe in any god" does not imply "I believe that there is no god." An atheist professes both. Other people profess one, but not the other, as has been discussed.

Most people see the difference readily, especially once it is pointed out to them, and how important it is to keep straight. Easy enough to acknowledge; the difference is obvious, after all. Just hard to say three times fast.

People with an axe to grind, people who are defensive about their religious views, and people in denial acknowledge the difference less readily than others. Pointing it out to them will usually be unavailing. That can hardly be surprising. These people already know very well how important a difference it is.

James Randi is an atheist activist, among his other causes. He contributed a wonderful word to the English language, woo. His word is a polite substitute for an earthier English expression, cattle manure described in two syllables.

Woo will be resisted here. Woo is professing a belief and in the same breath denying that it is a belief. Woo is professing a religious belief and in the same breath denying that it is religious.

Woo, meet your resistance.

[edit on 19-7-2010 by eight bits]




posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 09:34 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Atheism is a religion. Atheism is a belief, specifically, the belief that no god exists.
It's a trite saying, but it sums up the issue well: Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 09:38 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Atheism is a religion. Atheism is a belief, specifically, the belief that no god exists.


Atheism is only a religion by legal definition. Other than a legal designation it has no qualities or features of any other religion. Also, it's not a belief that there is no god. More accurately, it's disbelief in deities.

However, let's give you the benefit of the doubt and call it a "belief". Operating on belief does not necessarily constitute a religion. People believe in the existence of bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, yet cryptozoology is not a religion.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 09:40 AM
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It's a trite saying, but it sums up the issue well: Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

The problem is not its triteness, but its lack of genuine parallelism.

Better would be "Atheism is religion like black is a hair color."

That would both capture the distinctive "absence of something" that characterizes black among colors and atheism among religions, and avoid falsely introducing a paradoxical quality that just isn't there.

Let me just add on the answer to TD here


Atheism is only a religion by legal definition.

I disagree. The word as it occurs in the Amendment acquired its legal interpretation based on what the people who ratified the Amendment would reasonably have understood the word to mean.

The Constitution, along with all ten of its original amendments, was the subject of intense public debate. The best of the winning side in that debate is collected in the anthology called The Federalist Papers. But the debate was a lot more extensive than that, and it was a lay debate, carried out in a variety of media and venues, and not something conducted in a court of law.

The scope of the word became a matter of law, then, because of the word's already established meaning in the language. And, of course, once it has a meaning in law, the then legal usage reinforces the antecedent meaning. Discussion of First Amendment issues is not confined to lawyers. It's not even confined to Americans.


Other than a legal designation it has no qualities or features of any other religion.

Atheism asserts the truth of a categorical proposition of facially religious subject matter, whose truth has not been verified by natural means.

For example, there is a core deism (not to be confused with the theologically elaborate capital-D variety) that holds no more than that, one proposition of the same character. To wit, "God exists, and did once but does no longer intervene in the natural course of events." It is obvious that the quoted statement has not been verified by natural means.

Surely, what a core deist believes about all of that is her religion.

I believe that answers your bigfoot example as well. Whether a belief is religious is determined by its subject matter. A statement about whether or not gods exist concerns religious subject matter. A statement about whether or not bigfoot exists concerns something secular.



[edit on 19-7-2010 by eight bits]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 10:05 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


Yes, I know it first came from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, via Sherlock Holmes, but it entertains me that it is an 'Old Vulcan Proverb.'

Now on to your post. First, woo, very cute. Well, you are full of woo. It is you who is using personal definitions. Religion is a system of beliefs; atheism is the lack of a certain belief, namely the belief in god. Now, some atheists think there is likely no god, but you do not need to have that point of view to be an atheist. You just have to reject the claim that there is a god. Now, if you are going to keep saying the same thing, then I am going to ignore you. You cannot change the definition of a word to suit you, and I really don't appreciate you doing it to lie about my point of view on deities.

Postscript: I will ignore you because you fail to understand the words I use, not because I fear what you say.

[edit on 19-7-2010 by C09JayLT]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 10:29 AM
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You just have to reject the claim that there is a god.

Depends on what you mean by reject, which is ambiguous.

Rejection may mean either that you do not share the claimant's belief, or it may mean that you believe the contrary of the claimant's belief. In which case, of course, it means you do both, and it also means that you profess a belief. In doing so, you are like the claimant, it's just that your belief is incompatible with hers.

Perssonally, I reject the claim that there is a god in the first sense, and only the first sense. So, I am not an atheist. My religion is called agnosticism.


I really don't appreciate you doing it to lie about my point of view on deities.

Woohoo! The "L" word.

Resort to namecalling is the surest sign that even you can see the bankruptcy of your argument.

It's been a treat.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 10:58 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


Now, this is something new, so I will respond. A lie is something meant to deceive or give the wrong impression. Your deliberate misuse of the words 'atheism' and 'religion' after you were corrected on their meaning is an attempt to deceive in order to make a point. You are thus lying. Statement of fact, not namecalling.

[edit on 19-7-2010 by C09JayLT]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 11:38 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Whether a belief is religious is determined by its subject matter.


I respectfully disagree. Firstly, atheism is not a belief. It is disbelief.

Let's look at various definitions of "religion":


a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny

an institution to express belief in a divine power

A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.


When one Googles "is atheism as religion", we see a resounding "NO" by everyone except religious institutions.

Although I submit it is legally classified as a religion for a variety of reasons it cannot qualify as religion under any known definition, nor your assertion that basically, any belief about religious subject matter constitutes a religion. For example, one's denial that Thor is responsible for lightning is not a religion. The subject matter is religious in nature though the belief is not a religion.






[edit on 19-7-2010 by traditionaldrummer]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 12:20 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


It seems more likely that you do not like losing or being wrong so you have decided to change the meaning of a word. Atheism has NO SHARED SET OF BELIEFS. Therefore, it is not a religion. Sorry but changing what a word means does not make that the right way to interpret that word. No, atheism has not been declared a religion by any law in the US.


Perssonally, I reject the claim that there is a god in the first sense, and only the first sense. So, I am not an atheist. My religion is called agnosticism.


What would be the shared set of beliefs among agnostics? People will do anything to make a point these days, huh?

[edit on 7/19/10 by evil incarnate]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 12:37 PM
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Originally posted by evil incarnate
reply to post by eight bits
 


It seems more likely that you do not like losing or being wrong so you have decided to change the meaning of a word. Atheism has NO SHARED SET OF BELIEFS.


While I agree that, by my definition of religion, atheism isn't one, I'm not sure what your logic of it having no shared set of beliefs is. There must be some commonality, or no one would have anything to point to to say that they are an atheist.



-ism
suffix forming nouns:
1 denoting an action or its result : baptism | exorcism.
• denoting a state or quality : barbarism.
2 denoting a system, principle, or ideological movement : Anglicanism | feminism | hedonism.
• denoting a basis for prejudice or discrimination : racism.
3 denoting a peculiarity in language : colloquialism | Canadianism.
4 denoting a pathological condition : alcoholism.


As an "ism", atheism would need to adhere to one of these, and the only one that I can make real sense of is #2, which implies commonality. Even if you have one tenet ("There is no God") you still have a shared set of beliefs. Just a very small set.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 01:02 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


I see your point, but I think the emphasis is a-theism, not athe-ism. That is to say, atheism is the state of lacking the qualities of theism. You only have to lack a belief in deities, not have a belief in their nonexistance. Now, many of us have a 'belief' that there are no deities, but it is not needed, and it does not include a whole system of beliefs.

In short, you only need to not believe one thing to be an atheist, and even if you make a claim about that thing, you don't have any other beliefs that have to be associated with it for you to be 'in.'



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 01:20 PM
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Originally posted by C09JayLT
reply to post by adjensen
 


I see your point, but I think the emphasis is a-theism, not athe-ism.


Yeah, when I was thinking it through, I saw it that way as well. Like "amoral" or "asexual".

If one was to not believe in God, but to believe in something else that wasn't God, but was more than man, would the tendency be to lump it in with that same belief, or to say that that person had a separate point of view?

In other words, does atheism incorporate disbelief in all supernatural things, or is it solely the lack of belief in God? And, if the latter, does it rely on a specific definition of God (as in "creator God")?



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 01:23 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen
While I agree that, by my definition of religion, atheism isn't one, I'm not sure what your logic of it having no shared set of beliefs is. There must be some commonality, or no one would have anything to point to to say that they are an atheist.


Please enlighten me. What is the shared belief among atheists?




-ism
suffix forming nouns:
1 denoting an action or its result : baptism | exorcism.
• denoting a state or quality : barbarism.
2 denoting a system, principle, or ideological movement : Anglicanism | feminism | hedonism.
• denoting a basis for prejudice or discrimination : racism.
3 denoting a peculiarity in language : colloquialism | Canadianism.
4 denoting a pathological condition : alcoholism.


As an "ism", atheism would need to adhere to one of these, and the only one that I can make real sense of is #2, which implies commonality. Even if you have one tenet ("There is no God") you still have a shared set of beliefs. Just a very small set.


And "ism" is not a religion. Feminism is not a religion. Hedonism is not a religion.

There is no tenet "There is no God" especially capital "G" god. That shows that you believe the whole purpose of atheism is to oppose one particular god. You are unfortunately wrong but I think the post by C09JayLT above sums it up a little better than I might.

Atheists are not a group of people who oppose god or even your God. It is a label given to people who have yet to be convinced there is any reason to believe in a deity. A label does not a religion make and not being convinced is not a shared "belief."

[edit on 7/19/10 by evil incarnate]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 01:29 PM
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Jay


Now, this is something new, so I will respond. A lie is something meant to deceive or give the wrong impression. Your deliberate misuse of the words 'atheism' and 'religion' after you were corrected on their meaning is an attempt to deceive in order to make a point. You are thus lying. Statement of fact, not namecalling.

You wrote that I lied about you. The facts are that we discussed a difference of opinion about the meaning of a word.


You only have to lack a belief in deities, not have a belief in their nonexistance.

I lack a belief in deities, and I am not an atheist.

There is no controversy that Thomas Huxley coined the word agnostic in the 19th Century chiefly to make that very distinction. While the word has lost most of its original "full belief system of Thomas Huxley" meaning, and had done so even during Huxley's lifetime, the word continues to make that fundamental distinction from atheism.

Some atheists prefer to call people of my religion "weak atheists" and "soft atheists," but then some atheists like name calling, as we have seen.

TD

We're going in circles. I have already produced examples of other religions that fail to exhibit the features on which you rely. I'd be happy to discuss those examples, but once through the list is enough.


... everyone except religious institutions.

I'm not a religious institution, and I come up on Google. I think you need to rephrase.

While you're thinking about that, please recall that being a member of a religious institution does not remove someone from the English-speaking community. English words mean what substantial numbers of English speakers think they mean when they use or hear them. That's the only test.

If any substantial proportion of those who profess what even you call a religion would assent to describing atheism as a religion, then the game is over, because that's a substantial portion of the people who speak English as a native language.

At best, you can say that there is controversy about the propriety or usefulness of calling atheism a religion. Fine. That's a self-proving statement, since you can make it so, and already have.


For example, one's denial that Thor is responsible for lightning is not a religion. The subject matter is religious in nature though the belief is not a religion.

There is a second part that you've omitted, the business about verification by natural means.

I am assuming that your opinion about Thor's role in thundermaking is based, at least in part, by your understanding of thunder as a natural phenomenon, and that your understanding has been verified by natural means.

So, no, I would not characterize that statement of yours as a religious belief, nor ought what I posted have led you to think that I would. Unless, of course, my assumptions here are wrong..


EI

I have already discussed the belief that atheists hold in common, that there is no god.


No, atheism has not been declared a religion by any law in the US.

In the domain of US law, I have only discussed the interpretation of the word religion, as it appears in the First Amendment.

If you have a court case that excludes atheists from protected free expression, then that would be very interesting to discuss. But otherwise, I don't see why there would be "a law" that would "declare" a religious belief to be "a religion."

How would that come up, even? Specific organizations might have regulatory recognition (IRS tax exemption, for instance), but that would depend on the purpose of that organization, not the religious opinions of its officers. Surely not on whether their opinions were "religious enough."


What would be the shared set of beliefs among agnostics?

The "least common denominator" is dissatisfaction with available arguments and evidence purporting to bear on the question of god(s)' existence.

Dissatisfaction with the quality of any nondemonstrative argument is, of course, a matter of personal opinion, and so a belief.

Atheists presumably agree with agnostics about that belief, but atheists also believe something else in addition, something which agnostics don't. Note that that makes agnosticism and atheism mutually exclusive, as Huxley intended, and does not make agnosticism a kind of atheism.





[edit on 19-7-2010 by eight bits]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 01:38 PM
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My concept of God or the "Source" has changed from my learned ideology of childhood. I know without a doubt that we are all connected on a soul level and what is the soul? I don't know, but I've had some strange experiences. I don't think there's ever an end and we are capable of so much more. There's a lot to say for the pineal gland and raising our own frequency to experience much more. There is a higher consciousness we can attain where everything is totally awesome and we know that life is all about love and compassion. I believe the Egyptians called that 'higher self' the 'KA'. There must be something within ourselves that is connected to this higher consciousness to be able to have a one-on-one conversation. I call it the 'divine' spark within. A person's spiritual growth depends on their own experiences. We are definitely a collective of sacred beings. I don't separate science from spirituality. There's no way from me to explain that 'spoon bending' reality of a higher consciousness, lol, but it's real....literally.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 01:44 PM
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Originally posted by evil incarnate
Atheists are not a group of people who oppose god or even your God. It is a label given to people who have yet to be convinced there is any reason to believe in a deity. A label does not a religion make and not being convinced is not a shared "belief."


My computer dictionary here (don't know what edition it is, sorry, it's the one that comes with a Macbook Pro) defines it as



atheism |ˈāθēˌizəm|
noun
the theory or belief that God does not exist.


Capitalizations aside, if that's the generally held definition, regardless of what any one person wishes to redefine it as, said definition implies a shared belief. I don't see why that's such a sticking point for you, and I, again, agree that atheism is not a religion, even though it's not hard to see why some may mistake it for one, by the words and actions of some who subscribe to the belief.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 02:18 PM
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Originally posted by eight bits
English words mean what substantial numbers of English speakers think they mean when they use or hear them. That's the only test.

If any substantial proportion of those who profess what even you call a religion would assent to describing atheism as a religion, then the game is over, because that's a substantial portion of the people who speak English as a native language.


This is incorrect. Words do not take their definitions by colloquial, regional or other interpretations. At best you have strictly a mass misinterpretation. In this case "religion" appears to be misinterpreted. Currently in the political arena, "racism" is being misinterpreted. And here are 9 more words commonly misinterpreted.

In short, claiming that you can call something a religion and have "religion" mean anything you want it to does not change the fact that atheism (a philosophy at best) is not a religion.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 03:41 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Webster says atheism is "a : a disbelief in the existence of a deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity". (a being weak atheism and b being strong atheism) I think this leaves plenty of room for something bigger than humanity as a deity is just a god or goddess. For example there are Buddist atheists that don't believe in a god but do believe in reincarnation and karma, among other things.



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 03:45 PM
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I would like to ask a question to the OP, and thank him for the opportunity.

As an atheist, do you believe in the existence of a superior being, intelligence, entity, than man? Keep in mind that the existence of such entity, or the belief in it, in no way means belief in a deity, as you might be well aware of.
Just as we human beings tend to consider ourselves on a higher level than the animal world, do you believe that there could be entities, perhaps extraterrestrial, that are on a higher level than ourselves?
Also, some might consider those entities deities or God. In that case , what would you respond to someone who might say that that is the proof of God, or some form of deity?
Thanks



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 03:51 PM
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This has come up a few times, so here it is in one place: there are three non-theistic viewpoints

Agnostic: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as god) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existance or the nonexistance of God or a god.

Negative/Soft/Weak Atheist: One who rejects that gods exist

Positive/Hard/Strong Atheist: One who explicitly affirms that gods do not exist



en.m.wikipedia.org...

This article explains strong/weak implicit/explicit atheism. Look for the purple/blue chart or the section labeled definitions and destinctions. Droid does... not have a nice copy paste function with my browser of choice.

[edit on 19-7-2010 by C09JayLT]



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